I am currently near the end of the first year of my 3 year PhD. Unfortunately my experience has been very very disappointing. Well when I started the program, I was full of passion and enthusiasm for learning. However, my supervisor provides zero guidance, he gives contradictory information and he has no clarity about what he wants to do (it was his project). He does not even have a research question. Whenever I talk to him he says we are going to do this, we are going to do that, just a collection of methods and techniques with no clarity of what is it exactly that we are trying to do. I expected I was going to be guided in a systematic and step by step manner at least in my first year but due to these reasons I lost all motivation, now one year down the line, one year has been wasted and I have no idea what to do. There are many other problems which I have facing in relation to this but I have highlighted the main ones. How I can possible complete this PhD in two years. Can someone please help me or advise me?

  • 1
    Have you considered changing advisors? It happens all the time in every field. Jul 12, 2015 at 13:21
  • Hi, it will be like opening a Pandora's box. I am on funding too. I am pretty sure it will be create a bad atmosphere and to be honest it's not going to work.
    – soul123
    Jul 12, 2015 at 13:24
  • What have you done to rectify the situation? You are working 3 years on a suggested area. What ideas you came up with, what previous methods you have implemented and what you tried of your advisor's ideas?
    – Alexandros
    Jul 12, 2015 at 13:36
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    What did your advisor say when you told him that you could not make sense of what he was suggesting?
    – Mad Jack
    Jul 12, 2015 at 14:49
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    I am on funding too. — All the more reason to bring up your issues with your advisor as quickly as possible. — I am pretty sure it will be create a bad atmosphere and to be honest it's not going to work. — Then you definitely need to change advisors!
    – JeffE
    Jul 13, 2015 at 1:37

1 Answer 1


Your PhD supervisor sounds like my PhD supervisor. And my PhD worked out well (though it was intended to take 5 years). Professors typically are subject matter experts, not mentoring or management experts. It's good he knows the methods and unsurprising he does not set clear goals for you. I recommend you take this as an exciting opportunity to decide for yourself what the goals (which might relate to funding, publication, employment, scientific results...) and priorities are. Some of the things you have been assuming are your supervisor's responsibility might be better viewed as your own privilege.

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